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Seattle Design Festival 2020 brings a ‘BEECON’ to 22nd Ave, new Black artist mural to Everyday Music

In a summer of cancellation, design lives on in Seattle and across the Central District and Capitol Hill. With the start of the annual Seattle Design Festival this week, organizers took a step beyond moving things to a virtual gathering celebrating creativity and form by bringing elements of the festival to every part of the city — including 22nd and E Olive St which is set to buzz with a temporary “BEECON” installation.

Put on by architecture firms Design in Public and AIA Seattle, this year’s festivities will look quite different from the multi-exhibition, site specific setup of years past that attracted thousands of visitors.

“I’m actually really excited about how this has forced us into the communities in a dispersed way,” festival organizer Annalee Shum said, “but in a way that can potentially have a lot of meaning for our community members.”

Beginning on Saturday, local artists and organizers will unveil exhibitions across Seattle — including three around the Hill — alongside a host of virtual events centered around this year’s “About Time” theme, which “asks how design can help us all respond to the urgent issues facing our society — racism, poverty, public health, and environmental stress among them.”

SATURDAY, AUGUST 15 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 16: The “BEECON/BEACON” art installation will tackle the theme of time as it relates to the coronavirus crisis and Black Lives Matter protests of recent months. “The idea of a street installation was sort of our way of inviting people to pause in all of this and to create a moment of reflection or engagement or curiosity,” VIA Architecture’s Solaja Ratcliffe said.

This “pollinator-friendly” exhibit, consisting of taller painted pieces symbolizing beacons and flower planters of varying sizes made with 3D cutting service Axis Cut Parts, will be set up on one of Seattle’s Stay Healthy Streets designated for walkers and bikers.

“The idea of the beacon itself — we sort of played with the language there and the spelling to show that it is this thing that you can look at that sort of stands out from a ways away, but also reflects the idea of regenerative healing and what that means in the context of bees and the environment,” Ratcliffe told CHS.

At the end of the installation, Ratcliffe says visitors are invited to take planters and other parts of the display home, with the hope that these art pieces are repurposed or replicated to become more permanent fixtures of greenways and other streets across Seattle.

“If we’re creating a gateway into the street, here’s one way of designing it in a way that is visually appealing and has some element of community identity and community use for it, where we can have multifunctional space for people to sit, do art, socialize,” VIA Architecture designer Justin Panganiban said. 22nd & E Olive St / 8 AM – 8 PM on Saturday, 8 AM – 5 PM on Sunday

SATURDAY, AUGUST 15 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 23: Off to the side of where this summer’s Capitol Hill protest zone once stood, Two Hands Collective art group is presenting an “ON THE RECORD” mural on the side of 10th Ave’s Everyday Music record shop. The mural, painted by BIPOC artists, intends to celebrate Black musicians from different eras and their impact on the music industry, according to the project’s description.  “CHOP, unlike any other place in the world, is the outcome of deeply rooted emotion and a unique outlet for cultural expression around the systemic oppression of underrepresented minority communities,” the description reads. “This is why it’s important to co-created this mural with our local communities, especially artists of color.” 1520 110th Ave (Everyday Music)

SATURDAY, AUGUST 15 – SUNDAY, AUGUST 23: Environmental Works Community Design Center, located in decommissioned Fire Station 7, and design firm Board & Vellum are putting on an outdoor display visible through their building windows of 15th Ave’s “Past, Present and Future.” The exhibition will consist of photos and text highlighting both the history and potential future of the street, as discussed in a series of 2018 community workshops “imagining 15th’s future as grounded in collective ideation.” 400 and 402 15th Ave E (Environmental Works), 115 15th Ave E (Board & Vellum)

There are also a number of online events:

  • Thinkercyze: A weekly design challenge now open through August 23, with new challenges released Wednesdays at 10 AM. This week’s challenge, put on by Amazon Architect Vicki Ha, is a “Build Your Own Adventure Maze.”
  • Live webinars and discussions with topics like “Creative Rituals: Designing for the New Normal” and “Reimagining Retail in the Time of Coronavirus.”

Seattle Design Festival runs the week of August 15 – 23. You can find more information here.

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